We’re way past pretending that there isn’t a distinctly competitive element to social media. Duel, a new app from Daredevil Project Studios, has made this competition its core proposition, by allowing you to ‘duel’ with your friends over whose photo is the best. Here’s how it works: you post a photo, then challenge your friends to respond with their own, and the number of votes received determines which is the winner. Alternatively, you can post two photos and ask your friends to select their favourite, ideal if you can’t decide what to wear.
While a photo app where users can rack up ‘likes’ sounds familiar, Duel owes more to Snapchat than to Instagram, as it is all about having fun with a small group of friends, while simultaneously reclaiming your online identity by handpicking exactly who sees what. The app isn’t concerned with the politics of likes, which is why all votes are anonymous. And unlike other platforms, Duel isn’t about crafting an idealised, perfectly filtered image – the whole point is to stop taking yourself so seriously and get a bit silly.
“Duel is an antidote to shouting into a social media abyss,” says founder Paul Archer. “It’s a photo-duelling app that people can play with their tight network of friends, the ones that really matter to them…Having travelled around the world in a black cab with my best friends, which was ridiculously difficult but also fantastically fun, I was inspired to make an app for my friends and I to challenge each other via our phones.”
Archer holds a world record for his black cab voyage, and that sense of adventure is at the heart of Daredevil Project Studios. In the app’s launch video, Archer says that he wants people to download the app and find adventure in everything they do:
While the user appeal is evident, Duel is equally attractive as a marketing tool; it won the KITE Startup Pitch for Brand Partnerships at this year’s SXSW festival, receiving praise from executives at Unilever, L’Oreal and Coca-Cola. The beta version of the app is currently being trialled at sport and music events at London’s O2 arena, and has been called “bold, irreverent, playful and addictive” by the venue’s social media manager Stephen Fraser.
With trends like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge growing in popularity, Duel works equally well as a partner for charities. The app is fully geared up to take a donation when users post a photo, and the duelling element has the potential to inspire ‘competitive giving’ among peer groups.
As far as ambassadors for the app are concerned, Archer sees young, passionate early adopters as key to Duel’s success. “We’re eager to partner up with influencers who are hungry and who will get it,” he tells me, citing the YouTubers and Viners who engage directly with their followers just as they would with friends.
For instance, a beauty blogger could post a hairstyle tutorial and then challenge her followers to try it themselves and upload photos, fostering even greater engagement. The same goes for nail art, makeup, arts and crafts, recipes – the applications are endless. “We’ve created Duel hand in hand with the new generation of Internet stars,” says Archer. “Duel integrates with their existing social platforms, and offers interactivity and engagement in a way that no other photo app is doing.”
So in six months or a year’s time, when every Tom, Dick and Zoella is using Duel, just remember; you heard it here first.
Check out the app for yourself here.